If you’re new to buying a caravan, you can be bewildered as to what you’re looking for, and the different options and considerations you need to take into account. This is a little guide of the different types of caravans available, so you can make an informed decision and choose the one that suits you (especially if you’re thinking of purchasing a caravan for your own portable holiday!)
Caravans can be categorised into touring and static– touring caravans are mobile caravans which you hitch up to your car and drive about, and static caravans are, well, static.
Here’s a little summary of the touring caravan models we’re covering in this article:
- Folding caravans
- Fifth Wheels
- Pop-up caravans
- Teardrop caravans
- GRP (fibreglass) caravans
Conventional caravans are the most numerous in the UK. These generally have a single axle (only 2 wheels) and measure between 3 and 6.5 metres in length. These would normally have most of the amenities you would find at home, i.e. your kitchen (hob, oven…), bathroom (basin, sink…) and bedroom. Most standard conventional caravans sleep between 2 and 6 people, depending on the layout. This is known as ‘berth’- for example a 4 berth caravan could accommodate 4 people. The larger the berth, the more people it can sleep.
While it might not be considered its own type of caravan, we thought twin-axle caravans were worthy of a mention. As caravans get bigger in size they get heavier, so they need more support and added mobility to make sure they can be transported around safely. Large caravans therefore have twin-axles, which means having two wheels on each side as opposed to just one. This ultimately makes the chassis of the caravan stronger, but at the expense of making it a little harder to manoeuvre, especially if you’re backing it onto your driveway or onto a pitch at a campsite.
If you’re interested in large caravan (with a berth of 5 or 6 people upwards) then you’d want one which has two axles. These generally feel more stable when being towed on the motorway.
One of the least common and more peculiar types is the folding caravan. As it says on the tin, these are caravans which can be folded up and down- watch in amazement as you witness a small trailer transport into a full-sized caravan on your campsite.
These caravans work by folding the top half down, making it easier to transport your caravan sound, and then erecting and assembling it at your destination. This compact design makes storage a lot easier, and also means you don’t have to worry about driving in potentially dangerous, windy conditions (which is a serious consideration). What’s more, the compact design makes it easier for smaller, less power vehicles to tow. Still, on the other hand, you need to take into account the time it takes to erect the folding caravan- it’s hassle you wouldn’t get with a conventional! It also sacrifices space for your belongings. Only you can know if this is right for you.
The teardrop caravan is sleek, stylish and compact, named for the fact that it looks like a teardrop. It’s perfect for smaller and less powerful cars (like classic cars, trikes etc.) and anyone who only needs to pack the bare essentials. Most of these trailers are produced by a manufacturer called Teardrop Trailers.
These generally accommodate sleeping for two people, where a double bed will cover the whole floor. Some have very simple cooking facilities on board, but most people would just pack a portable cooker in theirs! Like the folding caravans these are a rarity, but nonetheless one of our favourites.
In stark contrast to the little tear-drop and folding caravans comes the fifth-wheeler. These larger caravans, native to the US, are becoming increasingly popular in the UK and are now made here as well. Being much larger, they require a specified articulated towing connection, not just your average hitch, meaning they can only be transported around by certain types of pickup truck.
These are perfect if you want an extra roomy, extra comfortable set up on your holiday. Bare in-mind however that lots of campsites won’t allow fifth-wheelers due to their sheer size- make sure you call up and make sure if you plan on turning up in a fifth-wheeler.
Pop-up caravans, commonly known as “pop-top caravans”, are more or less the same as your conventional caravan, except that they have a roof which extends open. The advantage of this is the additional headroom provided for an, otherwise, small caravan. These used to be popular in the earlier part of the century but are now somewhat going out of fashion.
The benefit of this ‘lower’ design means a smaller frontal area, meaning there’s less drag on the caravan and a better rate of fuel consumption when towing it with your car. This also makes storing the pop-up caravan easier, where it might fit in your garage (a conventional caravan probably wouldn’t!).
Lastly is the GRP caravan. GRP stands for glass reinforced plastic, in other words fiberglass. GRP caravans are made out of fiberglass. These are one of the newer types on the market. Generally smaller and cheaper than the other types, the GRP caravan is also much more durable than the other types, as it’s skin is constructed of a type of plastic. These generally hold their value well!
On the downside, the interior is pretty basic. This is probably the best option for someone who’s shopping for a caravan on a budget, but wants to make a safe investment.
We hope this helps you make an informed choice when choosing a caravan. Be sure to check here for some used touring caravans for sale.